This Winter issue is keenly focused on ideas, tools, processes and techniques that support audience impact by Extension professionals. The areas covered include parenting, relationship building, violence and its affects on youth, changing perceptions of foods, factors affecting diet quality and cost, involving the audience in development of the survey tool, and financial education training as a strategy to retain teachers. Each paper is briefly described below.
One applied research article describes the development and validation of a parent-report obesity risk assessment tool for young children with parents of low socioeconomic status. Parents were involved in tailoring the tool to other similar parents. They improved the tool with suggested changes to the text for all questions and to the content for most photographs. They also identified unnecessary text for elimination and suggested visual content to replace text. The process used in establishing the tool’s face validity should be valuable to Extension professionals who are developing other tools for use in the field.
One paper focuses on a classroom intervention to improve college students’ perceptions and use of canned vegetables. The authors gave intervention students sample tastes of canned foods over three weeks. Compared to the controls who did not taste the samples the intervention students improved in their perceptions of canned vegetables overall, canned vegetable nutrient value, and canned vegetable contribution to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The intervention group also increased their consumption of canned vegetables. Thus the authors showed that interventions that combine food tasting with information about the foods have the potential to improve perceptions about and use of those foods.
The sad state of affairs today is that college graduates get lower pay going into the teaching profession than they do when gaining employment in other areas. This leaves a shortage of teachers. The authors of one paper developed a program which shows that formalized financial education training is an important piece of professional development for novice teachers to keep them in the field. Extension educators can use this program to improve a teacher’s ability to understand financial topics, become better at managing their finances, and potentially be more apt to stay in the teaching profession.
One paper studied factors associated with diet quality and cost among low-income residents. The authors determined that greater access to stores with healthy foods and other neighborhood-level factors were not associated with diet quality or cost.
Their findings suggest that to improve diet quality in low-income audiences community interventions focused on food access issues may need to include nutrition education emphasizing building skills in label reading and food preparation as well as motivating these women to make healthy choices.
Today we are well aware of the violence present in the world and in our society. Authors of one paper studied the violence occurring along the U.S.-Mexican border and the consequences on youth and youth workers in that area. They highlight the unique characteristics of the border population, the crucial role of family and consumer science educators in ensuring the success of youth impacted by violence, especially in the Latino cultures, and offer guidelines to family and consumer science educators working with youth affected by violence.
To learn more about improving the wellbeing of families in the area of couple relationship education, authors of one paper examined differences in help-seeking behaviors between the sexes and across geographical settings (rural, micropolitan and metropolitan) and they found some interesting differences. They noted that it is important for Extension educators to consider how sub-cultures affect those they educate. Understanding the differences (i.e., in needs, resources, families, organizations, partners, interactions, and life-styles) should help Extension educators more effectively reach and work with certain clientele. This study offers insights educators can use in a needs analysis, teaching a course, or marketing. They suggest that considering more fully the help-seeking behaviors of those with whom we interact will ultimately improve the quality and outcomes of the services offered by Extension.
Parenting education helps prevent and reverse unfavorable social conditions but it is not always easy to get parents to attend programs. New collaborative strategies are needed to draw them in. One paper reports how a program integrating mindfulness, yoga, and parenting education shows positive results by improving the internal resilience or well-being in adults and parents. The author points out synergies created by intentional integration with another agency to maximize access to parents while addressing common factors. The paper provides strategies for Extension educators and other organizations considering partnering to increase impact.
As always, it is my hope that you will read the articles, apply the information to your lives personally and professionally, and enjoy the experience.
Jacquelyn W. McClelland, Ph.D.
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